Friday, July 21, 2017

July Update: Ups and Downs

It's been something of a rough month.

I finally settled in and wrote a bit on Scions of Mythos after my last post. About 3,500 words. Then I started Camp with a strong 1,500 words on the first day. Then I went on vacation mode and didn't do anything. Then I had five amazing days of writing...wordcount-wise, anyway. The story just wasn't moving. Things still felt broken and I couldn't get into the story. I felt like I was going through the motions. There was no excitement. No love for what I was creating.

So, I spent about a week not writing. And feeling terrible about not writing. I finally sat down one day and did a bunch of brainstorming. Part of my issue was figuring out what order do things happen in. So I did a projected outline for a couple of different ways, and what would cause things to happen that way. And I really had to look at what the heart of this book would be. And I figured some stuff out. I still didn't write for a few more days, but stuff percolated in my mind. And then I had a few productive writing days.

Sadly, it's not enough to save Camp NaNo. I had to lower my wordcount goal. Which kills me a little bit. I still can't shake the feeling that I'm so far behind on writing this book.

But it comes when it comes. My writing friends keep reminding me of that.

And it's been hard to get motivated to write in general, if I'm completely honest. I've been wondering what the point is a lot lately. After the initial rush of an agent asking for a partial manuscript, a string of rejections made me lose hope again. I'm down to sixteen outstanding queries, and a majority of those I will probably never hear back about. I've amassed 29 rejections and closed out eight more. Soon to be ten.

Actually, yesterday I was about to close out one--one I really was sad about, because he sounded amazing and reps a lot of my favorite authors--and then I got an email from him.

My book sounds intriguing to him, and he'd like to read the first chapter.

There may have been some jumping up and down and screaming followed by hugging my poor puppy who had no idea what was going on with her human.

That's two, friends. Two agents....two out of my top five agencies...who have shown interest in my book.

It's affirming in a lot of ways. I had resigned myself to the one agent being kind of a one-off. Not necessarily a fluke, but maybe more just like dumb luck. But now there's another one! And the second agent had a one-page plot synopsis as well as the query. So it's good to know that that's ok. I never even had anyone look at it.

Two huge agents from hugely respected agencies. My query, my synopsis, my book...they don't suck! I'm really, really happy.

And it's amazing what that happiness can do for someone's muse. Don't get me wrong. It was distracting. Even knowing it was unrealistic, I checked my email a dozen times after sending my pages to see if he'd gotten back to me yet. Hah.

The thing is, I had gotten to a point where I was like, I have maybe two fans plus my writing group. It's hard to motivate myself to write a book just for my brother and sister. I don't necessarily have to write it. I already know how it ends. I know who lives and who dies. I know how everyone's stories resolve. I'm not writing it for the sheer discovery of it.

But thankfully that changed yesterday. I let go and just settled into the story, and scenes I hadn't expected came out. I'm not moving my characters from point A to point B hoping they'll do what I want them to do. They're doing their own things. It's nice. It's a thing I love about writing.

So. I'm only 16,000 words--about five chapters--into the book. But it's finally coming alive. And while I may be "behind" or more accurately, not as far as I wish I was, it's ok. I've got all the time in the world.

I'd like to be done with it before November so I can write something new for NaNo and then take a break for a month or two, but even if I don't, it's ok.

I may not even know if these two agents want my book in six months, so there really is no hurry to self-publish. As long as all three books are written and at least first draft edited by the end of next year, I'll still be in good shape. For whatever happens.

Also, one more little tangent. I stalled out on my adventure novella series earlier this year. I was suffering from lack of planning and my character's lack of agency. So I put the episode I was working on away. The other day, I went back and read over the episode before the one I'm working on, and it was really good! Like, I surprised myself a little. The ending was a little rushed, but I know it was because I was anxious to get it done and move on.

I feel good about that series again. I know the first two adventures are a little rough still, but I'm not sure how to fix them. But after that, they are great. I really hope that someday I can put them out in the world. Hell, if I end up with an agent, I can pitch the series and maybe they can help tweak the first two adventures. Although I kind of wonder if those won't probably always be just for me. They're slowly amassing. I have the first season done out of five. But I only get maybe two done a year, so it's still a long time before I can do anything with them. I always said I had to have the first two seasons done before publishing, but I think I need to plan on having at least three seasons done. The publishing plan there is to release two seasons a year, so unless I increase my pace, I'd need five years to write the last two seasons.

Now, if I could write a season a year, three seasons would be enough of a bank. That'd be a year and a half. Trouble is, a season is basically a whole second book a year. I already determined that I'm hard-pressed to write more than one book a year in addition to starting a new NaNo project.

So for now, I just toy with it between projects to clear the palate and have some fun. It's back-burner for now, until I'm done with Scions of Mythos.

If ever.

Ugh.

Becoming a published writer is such a slow process. Even self-publishing is limited to how much product I can produce and if I can get into editors and find cover artists. I really, really want an agent to help me find a publisher so I can mostly just focus on writing and promoting and working my day-job for awhile longer.

Oh, in other news...and I can't remember if I mentioned this con or not, but the Midwest Reader Con I was going to help run in October has been canceled. The woman running it is having some family and health issues. I'm sad, in a way, but also relieved. I really don't want to be front and center in a convention again until I have a book out.

Last but not least, I should have another editing project or two over the next couple of months. Kevin is finally done the second book in his Village Alchemist series (YAY!!), and I might be editing another anthology for Sean with Pine Float Press. I truly do love editing, so I'm looking forward to both. Rachel won't have anything else for me for a few months yet, but then I should have another Cupid story.

I think that's it for this entry. Hopefully I'll have more news as far as agents by this time next month. I'm guessing most of my news will be more rejections and still waiting on these two agents.

I'm excited, though. The excitement had worn off. I really needed this. I'm beyond delighted. I'd be thrilled to death to be represented by either agent. I feel so lucky to have gotten their interest. They've rekindled my hope.

I think I can do this.

I just need to keep writing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June Update: Agents and Dreams

Big news! I had an agent request a partial manuscript. I sent off the first hundred pages to his assistant a couple weeks ago. And now I wait.

I also have collected 25 rejections and closed out five more, so I'm halfway through my list of 60. That's more than I originally planned to send out, but hey. A lot of the interviews I've read have said somewhere after 50 was their magical number. Me, I'm hoping 24 is still mine. I really, really want this agent to represent this book. Like, more than anything. And I can finally admit that. I was trying to play it cool, but I am not cool. I am freaking out.

Anyway. Finger crossing and positive vibes my way are much appreciated.

I have fairly little news outside of the query quest, though.

ConQuest was fun. We hung out with Jonathan Maberry. He is a fantastic human being. He tried to convince me gin is tasty by inviting me to try his gin martini. I still remain unconvinced, but hey, I got to take a sip out of Jonathan Maberry's drink. I also won Story-in-a-Bag for science fiction. That was a pleasant surprise. I've now won once in all categories. I feel like I can retire, now. Plus, I may have outgrown it at this point. I did it this year because I decided to revert back to fan rather than participant for one last year, with the idea that maybe next year I'd have a book published or close to published or something. I dunno. Until I have something to promote, I'd really rather attend cons as a fan. Since I do not have the credentials to sit with some of the folks on editing panels. At this point, my only contribution is hire a good editor. Just not me.

Anyway.

I published my Cafe story, but I'm not writing one this month.

I should be editing a novella for Rachel this week or next.

I did some edits on the first Druid Wars book. I'm excited for that one! Jack is, too. He's been doing a bunch of druid research, so the timing on this is about perfect. I have no clue what I'm doing for book two, but hey. Book one is awesome. If a bit lean. It was only 64k words. It's only 67k words now, so I'm hoping Jack can tell me where it needs more. I have two scenes I want to expand after this most recent read-through, so that should bump me up to 70k. I'd like to see it at 75k at the least, but anything about 70k is within industry standard.

And this whole update is a TL;DR: I have not been working on book three.

I think I'm ready though. I did some more brainstorming yesterday. I read over my outline, and it's actually pretty solid. There's a few things I still need to figure out, like where certain subplots should go, but I know how to wrap up almost every character and I have the final battle figured out.

I just need to write it.

I'm hoping to throw some words at it when I'm on vacation next week. And then I'm doing July Camp NaNo with it, so hopefully I'll get about a thousand words a day. I'm going to aim for 10k by the end of June, which only puts me, what, 50k behind?

It's ok. I've kinda scrapped my project timeline. I know what order to work on things. It was useful when I wasn't sure. But things have fallen into place and it's clear what to work on in what order. Right now, anyway. Book three is first priority. Druid wars book one is second priority. And third priority is to spend this November writing something new for NaNo. The next adventure novella is lower priority, but I would like to get episode 2.1 finished by the end of the year.

In order to achieve my goals, I need to be writing a book a year. I wrote most of Towers of Kansas last year. This year is Scions of Mythos. Next year probably Order of Osiris. That's my general goal, for now. One book in one of my big trilogies per year, one to two novellas for the adventure series for fun, and a new project every NaNo so the well never runs dry.

I'm not sure if short stories fit into that or not, but I am going to keep trying. The Cafe is important to me. I will keep writing for it as long as other people keep writing for it. And I have short stories to tell within my existing worlds.

I'm also not sure where publishing fits into this. I had a super long private blog post the other day about my plan for that. Those plans haven't changed yet. But they may if this agent actually likes my book. And where one agent out of 30 has asked for pages, it stands to reason that at least one more might out of 30 others. I'd written off the chances of representation for this book. But now it's back on the table. Or at least, there's a possibility of it going back on the table.

I'll spend more time talking about my self-publishing plan in a few months. Once I know for sure whether or not an agent decides to represent me.

But, in short, the idea is, in two years, to put out all three MystWatch books over the course of one year. Every two months, then the box set. Then the year after that, put out short stories until I can release all three books of the Druid Wars series in one year. And then a year of other shorts until I can put out all three books in the Pandemonium trilogy. And then I'll either go back to MystWatch and do Scion Slayer, or maybe look into doing the Dante novels, of which there may be anywhere from three to five, depending. There's also the adventure novellas I could potentially do, although maybe not under my name, so that may not help. I also have a second-world fantasy series that could potentially come next. That's going to be six books as I have it planned right now.

I'm really aiming to do a trilogy a year, every other year, for as long as I can sustain it. I figure after ten years of doing that, I'll meet my goal of being able to quit my full time job at that point. And why stop there? I'll have ten years' worth of new ideas from NaNo each year to work with, too, in theory. And undoubtedly could write more in the MystWatch world, if I wanted.

And then maybe I can do a trilogy a year instead of every other. But at that point, I may not have to.

The too long don't read version of all that is, I probably won't have a book published for another two years. Which is fine. I still think I can reach my first goal and get a book published before I turn 40. And once I do, I'll pick up momentum and not stop until I can quit my day-job. Which should take about ten years, by every calculation I've done.

So hey. In twelve years, I should reach my second goal.

I can only imagine the third goal will follow within the next ten to fifteen years after that if I keep the writing up.

And considering I've been writing since I was in middle school, I have faith. In myself and in the plan. Even when I've claimed not to be a writer, I've still been a writer. I have three decades of history being a writer, so it stands to reason I will keep it up for another three decades, at least.

I see it working for Rachel. I truly believe she'll be in good shape in four more years, which would be the ten-year mark for her.

This thing is achievable.

We just have to keep writing All The Books.

So that's what I'm going to focus on. I'm done querying agents for a few months (I have, like, three more I want to try at some point, but I'm not in a hurry there). I probably won't worry about Cafe stories or adventure novellas until after book three is done. I will have some editing projects, but that's it. Maybe a beta read. Potentially beta reader feedback for book two.

But all of that has to take a back seat. I've procrastinated long enough.

It's time. I will spend the next three to four months writing book three. I'm going to stop telling myself it's late and that I'm behind, because I think that's also stressing me out. I'm right on time. The time is now.

You can't see me, my time is...

Dude, John Cena, get out of my head.

I'll check in next month and let you know how all that is going.

Happy Summer Solstice (and Litha)!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May Update: Finally feeling motivated

I don't have a lot to add this month that I didn't cover in last month's update.

Line edits came a week late, so I did them this month instead of last. But! The book is out and it is glorious and Rachel dedicated it to me and made me cry.

I shouldn't have any more book-length projects this year until Kevin gets me his book. Rachel has a few short stories and novellas to throw my way, but those don't take long at all. I should be able to mostly focus on my own stuff the rest of this year, with short breaks to edit for Rachel and Kevin throughout.

I am still querying book one of MystWatch. I'm up to fourteen rejections, with queries out to six at the moment. That puts me a third of the way through my agent list. So that's coming along. More and more I'm thinking this isn't going to be the book that lands me an agent. It's a good book and there's a small group of friends and family who love it, but I don't think it's going to be a huge commercial success. But querying it is good practice. It is also something to make me feel productive while I work on book three and try to clean up other novels.

I haven't done much in the way of working on book three, though. I did spend some time brainstorming some ideas for the YA trilogy in my MystWatch world. I have another scene partially written and I'm solidifying more characters and what the motivation of the big bad might be. That's been a fun one. I'm really no good at YA and I don't read much of it, but it'll be a nice change.

I've been working on a Cafe story this month. My first in a couple of months, so that's good. It's writing, even if it's not much. I'm having fun with it. The prompt was to write a story based on song lyrics. I've always wanted to do "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" so I am, finally. Only I'm kind of making him a good guy, because he's actually hunting werewolves. I've had the song stuck in my head for days, of course. But I still chuckle when I think of it.

I've all but abandoned my adventure series at this point. I want the whole thing to be written because I really like the character arcs, but getting there is painful right now. I haven't quite gotten the formula for each adventure down yet, plus I keep changing the formula even when I nail one down. I also keep trying to write these stories without enough research. I've really pants'ed the last two, and when I got to this one, as fun as it is, it is also going to require more research. The whole series needs research and I'm too lazy at this point to do it. Or maybe less lazy and more disinterested. Other things are more interesting.

Like druids! I really want to push ahead with Druid Wars. Most of book one needs minor tweaks. The first chapter needs a rewrite (my first chapters always do, grr), but the rest are minor things. A few lines here and there. Now, it still needs a beta read. So more might be needed after that. But. I can't even get people to beta read book two of MystWatch. So I'm a bit stuck. I'm hoping the husband will look at it when he's done school. I'm pretty sure that's the next series I want to do.

My Pandemonium series is really original and awesome, but the first book is such a mess. Every time I go in to fix it, I get overwhelmed. Eventually I'll make a to-do list and just do one thing at a time. It's just figuring out where to start. Some things will affect other things. Every time I start pulling on a thread, all of it threatens to come unraveled.

What it all comes down to is, I wish I had more hours to dedicate to writing. I am at a computer for 40 hours a week for the day job. And when I have freelance projects, it's more like 60 hours a week. With the precious few hours I have left, I have to eat and sleep and hang out with my family and walk my dog and read books for fun and get in touch with nature. Therapist appointments and massages and friend/writing group obligations. There's just too much and it's hard to prioritize.

Once I get my writing career rolling, I'll be able to look forward to the day when I can focus more time on it.

Not sure if I've mentioned my goals here, but I plan on being able to write full time within ten years of publishing my first book. And within twenty-five years, I plan on having made a million dollars writing. I'm keeping track. I have a spreadsheet. I just added another $2.50 for the story I sold to Empyreome. I think that puts me at $275 so far. Wooo!

I really thought coming here to talk about my lack of progress for the last month would leave me feeling depressed. But amazingly, I feel more motivated now. I do have a plan. And even not having written a lot, I am still taking steps toward my goals.

And hey. ConQuesT is this weekend. That always recharges my creative batteries, too.

It's May. It's my time of year. I should be able to get back in gear and make some progress after this weekend.

Y'know. As long as life doesn't do anything else to completely derail me. Knock on wood.